I was recently researching an article on the importance of the gas industry for Wales, and was collecting some background details on the Point of Ayr Gas Terminal when I made an interesting discovery – but first the background.
Point of Ayr Gas Terminal
The Point of Ayr gas terminal was built in 1994 to process natural gas that is received from the Douglas Oil & Gas Field in Liverpool Bay which is operated by Italian company ENI. Oil is also produced at the field and which is shipped to shore separately by tanker, while gas is transferred to shore by a 20” pipeline.
The raw gas production of around 300,000 SCFD (Standard Cubic Feet per day) is firstly processed at Point of Ayr Gas Terminal. The majority of the plant’s output is then transferred by pipeline to the combined cycle gas turbine power station at Connah’s Quay, on Deeside, with any surplus gas fed into the UK National Gas Grid.
The Welsh Zone
Whereas the land boundary between Wales and England has been clearly defined for centuries, this is not the case in the sea, and it was only in 2010 that the marine boundary was defined in ‘The Welsh Zone (Boundaries and Transfer of Functions) Order 2010 No 760’.
This Order was made to clarify responsibilities for fisheries (which are devolved), but the defined border follows international conventions for marine borders and would form the basis of an international marine boundary of an independent Wales.
I had always believed that the Liverpool Bay oil and gas fields themselves were in English waters – and only processed in Wales. But when I overlaid the ‘Welsh Zone’ boundaries onto an oil and gas map of Liverpool Bay, I was surprised to find that the Douglas Field is clearly within Welsh waters!!
The Douglas platform (in Wales) receives gas from Hamilton and Lennox fields (in England) as well as oil and gas from Douglas field itself so not all of the gas processed at Point of Ayr is Welsh sourced.
But one thing is clear: Its Our Oil !!
The UK Position
The Westminster government will immediately say that energy is not a devolved matter, but the reality is that this resource is in Welsh territory and should be properly accounted for, and not have its value hidden within UK oil and gas figures, with no benefit accruing to Wales.
It is a relatively small field containing an estimated 225 million barrels and we will never qualify for OPEC membership – but it significantly helps our economic cause and would be a valuable addition to our GVA. I am certain that ‘Welsh Labour’ politicians are fully aware of this field’s status but have kept quiet about it to avoid exciting the nationalist cause.